Legendary speaker. Proud owner since 1993. Still in perfect shape. Throughout the years, I matched them with various components. They sounded always as good as the worst part of the audio chain supplied. Brilliant. Truly reference speakers. If you manage to find a pair, go for it. Currently, they are hooked up to Pass Aleph 3 with Audioquest speaker cables and Homegrown Audio DNA signal cables. I'm simply amazed how they deal with various genres of music. However, take my advice to make them sound outstandingly well:
1) don't hook them to lame components like Sony, Denon, Yamaha, Rotel etc. - You will be disappointed.
2) give them a TON of space to breathe. They go deep as hell but only if you manage to give them air they rely on.
3) positioning is crucial. Once you get the golden triangular setup, you win. Believe me. Even with various components, they may sound very resonating and disturbing; especially with acoustic bass. Also, the height matters a lot. You can try that the sound coming from these loudspeakers is keen to change dramatically if you maintain various head positions if you know what I mean.
4) once set properly and hooked to top class audio equipment, they will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your audio chain or/and the master quality of your recordings. This is both a pro and a con.
5) de-magnetize them with Isotek CD or Ayre CD from time to time. It helps.
Well, those speakers are legendary. Surpassed only by Confidence C1 (or larger speakers = which means larger listening room, too) but once you get used to Contours, you are not likely to see a dramatic improvement. Reference speakers. Highly recommended (for this price, there is really nothing of note to complain about) to 30m2 rooms or similar.
Sorry to say that one reviewer thought these to have a "tubey" sound with non existent bass. I hope that others interested in these speakers did not stop investigating after that horrid review. (Maybe he tested them with a worn out Philco amp or something!)
To the review these loudspeakers are of a different caliber, astonishing, really! I have tried them with everything from an upper level Yamaha -3000 receiver to a Bryston 4BST amp and the bass is anything but lacking. I often find myself putting the foam port plugs in to tone the tremendous bass volume down a bit. The bass is only part of the story though, the presentation made by thse speakers borders on ethereal. They have a magical quality that is just about impossible to put into words.
If you can find a pair of these just buy them, they really are that good! You cannot go wrong with these whether you listen to Mettalica, Bethoven, or Waylon Jennings, you will be impressed. None of my friends can believe that "all that sound comes from those speakers"!
There is no reason to wait seeing as these can be had fairly reasonably now and that the replacement model, the Contour 1.4 cost around $3000.00 per pair. Then again you could try different brands such as Celestion, Linn, Definitive Technology, Mirage, and B&W, for yourself but I am trying to save youy a little time with my extensive experience with many speakers from entry level to hi-fi models.
In summary the Dynaudio Contour 1.3 has amazing qualities that are impossible to put into words, magical comes to mind.
Does not have any ability to reproduce accurate bass. Bass lingers too long covers everything that follows overlaps and creates nasty reverberations. Meanwhile treble does not exist, even with very efficient amp like Linn or Naim. To make a long story short this speaker is not suitable for listening to music or any sounds. It is incoherent and at best can be described as something deliberately made to sound "tubey".
That would be a small offense for some tube-sound-fans if not for completely junky bass/midrange driver integration.
At 15” high, 8” wide, and 11” deep, the size is a little bigger for speakers using a 6.5” woofer. It weighs about 19 pounds, which is typical for the size of this speaker. The finish isn’t very special, black ash, looks dull and boring (reminds me of 500 dollar speakers). You can, however, get birds eye maple but you have to pay extra. But it doesn’t really matter for me since its all about the sound.
I knocked on the speaker cabinet to test its resonant behavior. Although it didn’t sound as dead as I’d hope, there were no cabinet colorations while listening to music. Even at high levels, the 1.3s enclosure did not color the midrange in any way. Dynaudio doesn’t believe in mass bracing, so they just brace at specific areas that would otherwise create cabinet vibrations. The rear port is about 1 7/8” in diameter and tuned to 43 Hz for excellent bass extension.
With the right placement and toe in, the balance is very neutral/natural and just sounds right. I achieved best results with ½ inch of toe in. Too much toe in can result for this speaker to have excess energy around 10 khz. The speakers are spread 5 feet apart, and the listening position is about 6.5 feet from the speakers. The front of the loudspeakers are 41 inches from the rear wall, 28 inches from the side walls. My small room measures 10 feet wide and 11 feet long with an 8 foot ceiling. The closet in between, behind the speakers are open all the way so the length extends to 13.8 feet. Since I was in a small room, I opened the window and the door to minimize early reflections and the bass overloading the room. RPG room treatment absorbers were also installed on the wall behind the listening position.
Bass is very well tuned and never exaggerated unless your room is very small and/or the speakers are too close to the wall. The speakers have to be out at least 3 feet from the wall behind the speakers. Bass extension is excellent: I measured – 4.5 dB at 31.5 Hz in my small listening room. Most mini monitors aren’t even close to this kind of bass extension. Many are down - 3 dB at 40 Hz or even a higher frequency.
The downside is port noise. This is probably due to a small port diameter for a relatively low frequency tuning. But it was only audible at high levels below 40 Hz. I only notice it when I am playing some really bass heavy tracks at high levels. Output is also limited below 40 Hz, since the woofer is becoming unloaded and starts to flop around in free air (typical for vented designs).
I tested its maximum output and achieved 101 dB at 40 Hz. Now, that is really something for a small speaker. Bass is just about enough for most music that a subwoofer isn’t necessary unless you really crave the bottom octave.
The 1.3s midrange is one of the best I’ve heard regardless of price. Most speakers at this price have some sort of midrange imperfection. This is most likely due to cabinet coloration, crossover problems, or just lacking in midrange detail. The Contour 1.3s are absolutely phenomenal with reproducing voices. I have heard the B&W Nautilus 805 not long ago and the balance seemed to be bumped up around the upper bass. This colored the midrange quite a bit and made male voices sound slightly chesty. With the 1.3s, I couldn’t detect any fault on the midrange, it is just pure and faithful to whatever music you play.
Treble is one area most speakers have troubles with. The Contour 1.3s also did this part very well. It sounds powerful, vibrant and exiting. It is also accurate and revealing. So if you have a bright source, then the treble response of the Contour 1.3s will also sound bright. But that’s not to fault the 1.3s since all is giving you is the truth.
Imaging and sound staging is another aspect these speakers excel. Thanks to its wide, smooth off axis response. Every instrument, voices or other sounds were clearly defined on their own space. This makes the speakers disappear and leave you with the music.
These speakers aren’t for the low powered tube fan. With 85 dB of sensitivity and 4 ohms of nominal impedance, these small speakers can be quite demanding. I am powering them with an Adcom GFA-5800. Also use good quality cables since these speakers are revealing. I used JPS Labs Ultraconductor Interconnects and Speaker Cables.
Anyways, The Contour 1.3s are far more enjoyable and more musical than anything else I’ve heard in this price range and above. I can easily tell that the other speakers are doing something artificial to the sound while the Dyns give you the truth. The Dynamics are also impressive. It seems like the speakers have complete control from the softest sounds to the loudest climax. The speakers’ tonal balance did not change at any level. They also handled all kinds of music effortlessly, classical, jazz, rock, R&B, rap, reggae, dance, you name it.
My only gripe is the port noise. But it does almost everything right: surprising low bass without boom, midrange with a purity of tone without that common coloration, accurate treble response with incredible amounts of detail, and images like crazy that leaves you with the music and not the speakers. I have heard many speakers from Magnepan, B&W, Martin Logan, Revel, Sonus Faber, Aerial Acoustics and nothing is as uncolored and more musical than the Dynaudio Contour 1.3.
Danes don't lie! :)
AH! Tjoeb '99 Creek OBH-10 Adcom GFA-5800 JPS Labs Ultraconductor interconnects JPS Labs Ultraconductor speaker cables Premier J series 26" stands
This are the best speakers I've ever owned, and some of the best I've ever heard, at least compared to other bookshelf size speakers. Hell, they are a hell of a lot better than many full size speakers - I auditioned a pair of full-size Paradign Studio 100's that were nowhere near as impressive, at around the same price.
I listened to these in my living room, driven by an unspectacular Denon amp, side-by-side with a pair of Sonus Faber Concertos.
Ok, so the Concertos won easily in visual terms. They're a great looking speaker. The Dyns are - well, dull. Nice (Well, really nice if you get the bird's eye maple), and incredibly solid and well made, with a furniture-quality finish. But - well, they're boring.
And when I listened to the Concertos, with a variety of rock and jazz CD's, they seemed like a winner, with a lot of bass for the size and generally nice sound.
Then I put on the Dynaudio 1.3mkIIs. Oh - Nevermind about the Concertos. They're off the list.
I swapped back and forth several times, with different albums and different volumes, and across the board, the Dyns win. Better high end (not as bright), better mids. And while the Concertos put out *more* bass, the Dyns put out *better*. They revealed textures and details in the fretless bass line from XTC's "Senses Working Overtime" that I've never heard before, and brought out all the layers of sound in a Steely Dan record, even at very low volume.
These are simply a fantastic pair of speakers.
I give them a 4-star rating for value, only because I think 5 should be reserved for a *steal* (the ones where you wonder how they can sell for this price). This does not mean they're not worth the $2399 they go for.